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1871 Celebrates Five Years as the the Center Of Chicago’s Tech Ecosystem

1871 marked its 5th birthday in Chicago Tuesday by announcing a massive celebration for the elite tech community from the city and beyond that has helped build and nourish its unique ecosystem inside The Merchandise Mart over the past half-decade. 

1871 marked its 5th birthday in Chicago Tuesday by announcing a massive celebration for the elite tech community from the city and beyond that has helped build and nourish its unique ecosystem inside The Merchandise Mart over the past half-decade. The celebration, which will be hosted at 1871 on May 12, will honor leaders both past and present who have helped 1871 thrive and create more than 7,000 jobs since its founding, as well as the entire tech community without which its status as the central hub for innovation and entrepreneurship would not be possible.

“In just five years, 1871 has built a vast, diverse and bustling tech “town square” in Chicago with the help of countless individuals who have generously dedicated their time, resources and knowledge,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “While we believe every day at 1871 is a celebration of the passion and strength of Chicago’s tech community, we are honored and humbled to host a 5th birthday that will bring all that energy to one incredible event. And while the event acknowledges how far we have come, we want the Chicago community to know that we’re not done yet.”

The growth of 1871 has been in a constant state of acceleration since its doors opened on May 2, 2012, after only five months of construction in a raw space on the 12th floor of The Merchandise Mart. Welcoming 60 member companies and 145 entrepreneurs in a 50,000 square foot space, the original 1871 space was the seed planted by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center that would grow into the massive enterprise that it is today. In five years, 1871 has created an estimated 7,000 jobs, fostered the growth of 150 alumni companies, continues to support 500 companies and thousands of entrepreneurs and helped to transform The Merchandise Mart by adding thousands of tech jobs in the historic building.

“It has been absolutely astonishing to see the growth of the tech community that has flourished inside and outside of the walls of 1871 over the past five years,” said J.B. Pritzker, 1871 and Pritzker Venture Capital Group founder. “I very much look forward to seeing 1871 continue to transform and innovate, and send a sincere thank you to everyone who has had a hand in bringing the vision to life.”

1871 supports its member companies through a host of resources, including access to hundreds of mentors, workshops, panels with top tech leaders, a state-of-the-art space and staff that encourages collaboration and community building. It has also been ranked as the top university affiliated tech hub in North America for 2015 and 2016 by UBI Global for its partnership with seven area universities. 1871 maintains partnerships with some of the world’s largest corporations, including Bosch, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Google, Comcast and Motorola Mobility. 1871 is also home to ten educational and vocational schools, ten incubator and accelerator programs and nearly a dozen venture capital firms, making for a rich and diverse mix of entities in the space with which members can interact and collaborate.

“I’m proud to be a member of the 1871 community as it celebrates this important milestone,” said Reva Minkoff, Founder and President of Digital4Startups Inc. and longstanding 1871 member. “1871 has provided me with so many resources and opportunities for my own business, and it is exciting to celebrate the momentous achievements over their last five years.”  

1871’s evolution has also contributed materially to the diversity of entrepreneurship in Chicago. Through its WiSTEM program for women-led businesses and its joint incubator with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 1871 is encouraging and supporting innovation by encouraging greater representation and inclusion in the tech economy. Every facet of 1871’s operations, from individuals chosen to speak on panels, to minority suppliers, and even its own staff of two-thirds women, is reflective of the city of Chicago.

“The success of 1871 is a testament to the hard work and constant support from countless leaders and innovators toward the Chicago entrepreneurship community,” said Jim O’Connor Jr., Chairman of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. “It is inspiring to be a part of this community and we look forward to 1871’s continued growth.”

1871’s 5th Birthday event on May 12 will be an evening of celebration of 1871 and our community’s accomplishments in the last half-decade, but also an opportunity to embrace the continuation and expansion of 1871’s mission into the future. Cocktails, food from our network of women and minority-owned vendors, games, expo-style demos from our member companies and a special unveiling of a permanent installation honoring “Chicagoness” will be part of the event, as will the many leaders and founders who have been a part of 1871’s journey. More details about the event, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1871, as well as an RSVP link, can be found here.

About 1871

1871 is the home of nearly 500 early-stage, high-growth digital startups and more than 1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Visit for more information. Located in a 145,000 square-foot space over four floors in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has more than 400 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 80 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. For more on our partners, visit, or become a partner by reaching out to

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